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After I practice or play, I notice that I can hear my voice in my left ear off and on for a while. Similar to having my finger in my ear when I talk. There also feels like there is pressure in my ear. Popping my ears or popping my jaw doesn't resolve the problem. No sinus blockage present. I also notice this when I bicycle for several miles. It seems to be related to the movement of large amounts of air when I breathe for playing sax or biking. I saw an ENT and they found no physical problems. I have had tinnitus for over 5 years. Not sure if this is related. Anyone have any suggestions on the source of this problem?
 

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Eustachian tube issue?

When they tested you, the effect wasn't present, right? I think you need the ENT test during the time you sense the problem.

I've had tinnitus for a long time - I've not had the problem you describe.
 

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If the Eustachian tube closes due to swelling (it does not take much) then you get that effect. It may be air irritating it. Perhaps mouth breathing, which one must do while playing. Not really a tinnitus thing; I have also had that for years.
 

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Try taking a decongestant 30-45 minutes before practicing. They work for 'stuffy ears' as well as noses.
 

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I found the answer: Patulous Eustachian Tube.

The symptoms of ear pressure, hearing yourself breathe, and hearing a distortion in your own voice as if you are talking through a kazoo are typically caused by failure of the eustachian tube to close.

https://www.richmondent.com/blog/as...f hearing yourself,pressure in the middle ear.
I was going to suggest this as well. I'm a scuba diver and recently started experiencing these symptoms. Equalizing pressure under the water puts a significant strain on the eustachian tubes, and I've always had problems equalizing. But it got really bad recently, and I was diagnosed by an ENT (who is also a diver) with Patalous. I was cleared to dive (and play sax) but the symptoms have not gone away after two months. I have always taken pseudoephedrine before diving (which, by the way is pretty much the only decongestant worth taking if that's the route you decide to go) and that helped, although since the diagnosis I've switched from 4-hour to 12-hour tabs and that has relieved some of the "aftershock" of diving.
 

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failure of the eustachian tube to close
Well, to be most accurate: failure of Eustachian tube to OPEN. As you probably read, the tube connects the outside atmosphere via an opening inside the nose to the otherwise-sealed middle ear cavity on the other side of the ear drum. "Clearing" or "Valsalva" maneuvers such as yawning or chewing gum pull apart the soft tissue walls of the tube and allow air pressure to equalize in the middle ear to the ambient atmospheric pressure. Pilots and divers are pros at these maneuvers, but airline passengers must equalize as well.
If the pressure differential is rapidly changing and continuing equalization does not occur (say, while asleep!), then at a certain differential pressure the Eustachian tube will seal shut. Now the ear drum bows either in or out in response to the pressure differential across it and this stretching is very painful! Ear block. The reason babies cry on airplanes during descent. The pressure in middle ear gradually equalizes through tissue out- or in-gassing, but there may be hemorrhage on the ear drum or in the middle ear, and fluid can accumulate in the middle ear. For acute treatment, an ENT doc has an air gizmo called a Politizer that forces air into the nose and may match the pressure in the middle ear, force the Eustachian tube open, and allow the middle ear to equalize with the ambient pressure.
But what you are experiencing is transient Eustachian tube dysfunction. You can try an oral decongestant such as pseudoephedrine, or nasal spray such as oxymetazoline (for a few days only--chronic use will give you a rebound perpetual runny nose). But the more effective treatment is a steroid nasal spray such as fluticasone prescribed by an ENT.
While Eustachian tube dysfunction is increasingly prevalent as adults age, there may also be a more sinister cause such as tumor. With new onset of this condition, I'd strongly recommend you visit an ENT for a one-time evaluation, and prescription medication as needed.
And, as mentioned, heavy ear wax (cerumen) impaction which seals the outside ear canal may also cause a kind of external ear block and pain from a stretched ear drum. Of course, an ENT will treat this as well.
I've used pain as the most common symptom of these conditions, but distortion of hearing certainly occurs as well such as you report.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just an update....Went to the ENT after playing so the problem was occurring. He found nothing. No inner ear pressure problems, no further hearing loss, nothing on visual inspection. He had heard of a few of the problems related to instrument playing but, in the end, is sending me to an ear specialist (and I thought he was a specialist). My son suggested daily nasal rinse so I am giving that a try for a week. The experience reminds me that sometimes doctors are 'practicing medicine'.
 
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